One of the biggest decisions a family has to make is when it is time for their loved one to move into an assisted living community. Once that decision is made, the next big question families ask is, “How do we really know that our loved one is happy and adjusting to their new home?”
Here are some things to consider: Determine how much time they are spending in their room. Socialization is important, even for the introvert.
Talk to the Life Enrichment team or Activities Coordinator and ask if they are encouraging your loved one’s participation. Find out if they have an assessment process that helps them learn about activities that your loved one enjoys the most.
Observe interactions with caregivers. Does your loved one know their names and understand their roles are in the community, and vice versa? Caregivers should know something personal about your loved one.
For example, my dad loves to talk about his childhood. Providing information like this helps the caregivers get to know your loved one on a more personal level, which makes all the difference. Monitor weight. Is your loved one gaining weight or losing weight? Everyone responds differently to new situations and stress. For some, it’s emotional eating, and for others, it’s difficult to find their appetite at all. Watch for changes in eating habits, as it could be a symptom that they need help adjusting to their new home. Watch for signs of depression. Are they acting out? Is there a change in their hygiene habits? Are they making friends? Do they sit alone at the dining room table? These can be signs that your loved one is not adjusting to their new home and may need some assistance from the facility.
Monitor your loved one’s routine. Once they settle into a routine and depend less and less on family, you can feel assured that they have adjusted well. Expect that calls may become more infrequent.
For instance, when I first moved my dad into an assisted living community, he would call me once or twice a day. Then over time, it decreased to only once a week. Now, it is for casual conversation or only when he needs something no one else can provide. Please have patience during this time, as some changes can be hard on the
For my dad, it took a long time to adjust to his new environment. We had a lot of ups and downs throughout the journey, but now he understands that he needs more help than he can provide for himself in order to maintain a high quality of life. I’ve learned through frequent visits and regular conversations with the caregiving team about where my dad has been adapting well, and areas where he needs more encouragement. I make sure that family visits regularly, but also balance that with him getting involved in his own social circles.
Your loved one shouldn’t just look forward to the next family visit. This balance was key for my dad in accepting his new normal. In the situation that your loved one has dementia and is moving to a memory care community, the staff may ask that you do not visit for a week or two. Do not be alarmed, as they just want your loved one to learn to depend on their new caregivers instead of you. Once this time is over, your visits will be more meaningful, as you can leave the caregiving to the trained teams. FBN
By Leah Veschio, RN, MSN,